After more than two years since the onset of COVID-19, the further easing of restrictions from March 29 is a significant milestone for our arts sector and audiences.
With strong support from the National Arts Council (NAC), our artists and arts groups have tapped on upskilling and capability development opportunities, commissions, and partnerships, to keep up their practice and actively engage audiences both here and overseas.
This latest set of Safe Management Measures (SMMs) will give artists and arts groups the opportunity to refine and put into practice new skillsets and approaches, to create innovative, hybrid works, and expand their ways of engagement with Singaporeans as well as international markets.
The increased accessibility enabled by technology will also allow audiences from all over to discover and appreciate #SGCultureAnywhere, especially given the wider range of physical and digital arts experiences that our arts scene will have to offer.
Live performances to resume in all venues and settings
With live performances permitted to resume in all venues and settings, singers, musicians, and DJs can bring live music back to F&B establishments, on top of other performing venues and platforms. In addition, there will be no restrictions on the number of performers and crew or unmasked performers.
Indoor live performances may have up to 1,000 audience members or 75% of venue capacity for performances with more than 1,000 audience members, among other revised SMMs.
ShiLi Yap of vocal duo ShiLi & Adi said: “It is time for live music to make its comeback! Adi and I have been working on our original compositions and performing virtually these past few years and can’t wait to be back on set to prepare for a gig and feel the adrenaline, with audiences again. The new measures signal more normalcy for everyone in time to come and we are glad that music and the arts can be a part of that.”
Singapore theatre company Teater Ekamatra, who will be presenting Bangsawan Gemala Malam at the Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) 2022 is excited for the roll out of these new measures. Artistic Director Mohd Fared Jainal said: “While we are not completely out of the woods, these new measures encourage the arts scene to continue creating and pushing on for our audiences to come back to the theatres in full force. For Teater Ekamatra, the relaxed capacity limits give us the opportunity to present this work on stage and engage with bigger crowds, in a safe manner.”
Busking returns in full swing with a new portal
As community SMMs ease and Singaporeans resume more normal lives, the arts will be a part of our daily encounters and social interactions once more. Singapore’s streets will be enlivened by busking activities, a move that is very welcomed by the community after more than two years of engaging audiences through self-initiated platforms, livestreamed busking sessions and live busking pilots.
Endorsed buskers under the Busking Scheme will be able to perform mask-free outdoors, with audiences at a one-metre safe distance. Singing and playing of wind instruments can fill the air on the streets, as long as buskers are fully vaccinated or exempted from Vaccination-Differentiated Safe Management Measures (VDS)*.
* Individuals who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection, medically ineligible for COVID-19 vaccination and children aged 12 and below are exempted from VDS.
Busker Singer-Songwriter Cliff Lee said: “This is awesome news for the busking community after not being able to busk on the streets for two years. NAC’s digital initiatives and pilots have provided us timely support as alternative platforms during the pandemic, but I definitely miss street busking and interactions with people who stop in their tracks to enjoy the music – that is just something that cannot be replaced. Looking forward to seeing everyone on the streets!”
A new busking e-service portal has also been launched on NAC’s website for buskers to enjoy greater access to locations and time slots. With this portal, there will no longer be fixed allocation of five designated busking locations per busker, as buskers will have access to all approved locations island-wide. This first-come first-served booking platform, with a ballot system in place for more popular venues will ensure greater equity and flexibility for buskers than before. Additionally, buskers can customise online profiles for added visibility and reach. Venue partners and public can know more about them and their upcoming acts at various locations on this portal too. Find out more here: https://www.nac.gov.sg/
More people to enjoy arts classes and workshops on-site, together
Art enthusiasts, artists, and arts educators will no longer be required to adhere to class size limits for all mask-on classes, workshops and VDS classes (i.e. in dance, singing and wind instruments). However, if there are non-vaccinated children aged 12 and below in a mask-off class, the class size will be limited to 10 pax (including instructor). All other individuals in class apart from the unvaccinated children aged 12 and below must be fully vaccinated, recovered from COVID-19 infection, or medically ineligible for the vaccination.
For the full details of updated SMMs, please visit NAC’s website here: https://www.nac.gov.sg/
Sustaining support for Singapore’s arts
This latest easing of SMMs comes right at the heels of the supplementary support for the arts and culture sector announced by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) during the Committee of Supply earlier this month. An additional $12 million will be injected into the Arts and Culture Resilience Package (ACRP), bringing the total support provided to $87 million.
Sector Transformation Fund (STF): Building on the success and positive reception towards the Organisation Transformation Grant (OTG) introduced last year, the new STF will provide targeted support for transformation projects that seek to improve audience experiences, organisational efficiency, and revenue streams. Consultancy support will also be made available for arts organisations to shape and develop their transformation plans. More details to be shared by end-April 2022.
Enhancing Existing Grants: As part of NAC’s continued support for Self-Employed Persons (SEPs), the SEP Grant will be incorporated into its Presentation & Participation (P&P) and Capability Development (CD) grants. This will ensure that SEPs are supported in a diversified manner that meets the changing needs of our arts landscape.
Building on the vital role of the arts in connecting communities and strengthening our culture and identity, NAC’s next Arts Plan (2023-2027) will focus on supporting a creative economy, developing positive social outcomes, and improving liveability for Singaporeans and placemaking through the arts. Engagements with key opinion leaders, stakeholders from the arts community, business and social sectors, public agencies and the community at large will be ongoing over the next few months.
Rosa Daniel, Chief Executive of NAC, said: “This is a huge step for Singapore in our COVID-19 journey, and for the arts and culture sector with arts coming back to live on such a scale. We hope the public will share in our joy and support the community by purchasing a ticket, attending a live performance, or even spreading the word. We will work closely with our artists to build on the new and innovative ways of presentation and engagement that has been explored over the past two years, and sustain the support given to build on the innovation and creativity that has inspired and uplifted us all.”